State Laws/Franchising

Genachowski: No New Antitrust Laws Needed On 'Net Openness

5/04/2011 4:02 PM Eastern

Democratic Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski will take to The Hill Thursday to defend his new network-neutrality rules, while senior Republican commissioner Robert McDowell will count the ways he thinks they were unnecessary and counterproductive.

That is according to a copy of their prepared testimony, obtained by Multichannel News, for the second of two hearings in the subcommittee on net-neutrality rules.

In his first appearance before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet, scheduled for Thursday, May 5, Genachowski will defend his network-neutrality compromise rules, saying the FCC achieved a "strong and balanced" framework that is good for all sides.

Suggesting a Goldilocks-like resolution of competing offerings and interests, he said "Some people think the framework we adopted doesn't go far enough, and others think it goes too far. I believe it gets it right."

To undo that framework, as a House Republican-backed resolution of disapproval aims to accomplish, "would increase uncertainty, decrease investment, and hurt job creation."

Speaking to the antitrust issue, he said he does not think that antitrust laws alone could preserve an open Internet or provide the regulatory certainty that was another aim of the rules. He also argued against adopting new antitrust laws on Internet openness, saying that would be a "problematic approach, ill-suited to the fast-changing nature of Internet technology."

He agreed with the Supreme Court that, "while statutes are hard to change in light of new developments in network technology or markets, expert administrative agencies have flexible processes for dealing with the unexpected and are, accordingly, better suited for handling this particular issue."

McDowell suggested the FCC majority--neither he nor his fellow Republican commissioner voted for the rules--got it all wrong on network neutrality.

Why? "Nothing is broken in the broadband Internet access market that needs fixing; Congress never gave the FCC the legal authority to act as it did; The order is likely to cause more harm than good; and, sufficient antitrust and consumer protection laws exist to prevent and cure any of the contemplated harms outlined in the order," he said, while giving the chairman props for a number of other broadband related initiatives.

McDowell and the chairman did agree on one thing, which is that 95% of the time they agree. That is the percentage of FCC decisions that are unanimous, a figure they both invoked in their testimony as a testament to the general bipartisanship that is the norm.

September